March 10, 2002

For The Sake of The Name - Part One

Preacher: Randy Smith Series: Colossians Scripture: Colossians 4:7–9


For The Sake of The Name-Part One

Colossians 4:7-9
Sunday, March 10, 2002 
Pastor Randy Smith

If I were to ask you what is the greatest cause , what would your answer be? If I were to ask you what brings you the greatest joy , what would your answer be? If I were to ask you what yields the greatest reward for your labor, what would your answer be?

Now I don't want you to say what you think I want to hear! I don't want the patented "church answer!" I want you to think about it for a moment…Greatest Cause, Greatest Joy, Greatest Reward. Think about how you spend your time, where you spend your money, what you talk about, what you think about. For soon we'll find that our words and actions and thoughts and checkbooks reveal the reality of our hearts.

Is your greatest cause your kids or an organization or (for many people) yourself? Or is it Jesus Christ? It's said that humans naturally pursue that which brings us the greatest joy . Is yours the pursuit Jesus Christ? Will your greatest reward of the 70+ years of living end when you die? Or is it eternal, waiting for you Heaven, where neither thieves nor rust nor moths will destroy it because it was done in the name of Jesus Christ for His glory?

For the past 7 months we have been studying Paul's glorious epistle to the Colossians. We've examined: our redeemed position in Christ (Union with Christ, the Preeminent One, the fullness of the Deity in bodily form), "put-ons" which should characterize the Spirit-filled believer, God's expectations for husbands, wives, parents, children, employees and employers, and communication with God and man with a heart toward evangelism. The categories seem to get more specific as we progress through the letter. Now that they are getting very specific, I find myself asking, what does the application look like? How are these truths fleshed out? After all, it's easy for you Paul, you're an apostle, you're receiving direct revelation from God, you've been exalted to the third heaven and you had a miraculous conversion story! What about the average Joe?

The end of Colossians is skipped by most, even many preachers, but it contains rich application to this epistle. For in them we see 10 "average Joes" applying the truth we've studied. These individuals saw serving Jesus Christ as the Greatest Cause , the Greatest Joy , and producing the Greatest Eternal Reward . These individuals are like you and I, nobodies, who went out for the sake of the Name. They are people the world would say made tremendous sacrifices, but to them it was no sacrifice, because they were pursuing their treasure chest of holy joy in a life dedicated to God.


Let's first examine Tychicus , the freeman who became a slave . "As to all my affairs, Tychicus, our beloved brother and faithful servant and fellow bond-servant in the Lord, will bring you information. For I have sent him to you for this very purpose, that you may know about our circumstances and that he may encourage your hearts" (Col. 4:7). Tychicus is not a common name amongst Bible characters, but he was nevertheless a key ingredient to Paul's missionary work. Let me give you a little background.

Tychicus (one of Paul's closest companions) whose name means "fortunate," is mentioned 5 times in the Bible. His name first appears in Acts 20:4. That account reveals some of Paul's missionary partners on his third journey. By his association with Paul during this period, it is safe to assume: Tychicus experienced the angry Ephesian mob that sought to kill Paul in Acts 19; Tychicus experienced Paul's Jerusalem arrest, his near flogging, and his imprisonment in Acts 21; Tychicus experienced the violent shipwreck in Acts 27, which landed both he and Paul in Rome. Tychicus saw all this, and most likely experienced tremendous hardship himself, but nevertheless ministered faithfully by the side of the apostle.

It must be remembered that Paul traveled to Rome as a prisoner. He wrote this Colossian letter under house arrest while being chained to a Roman guard. To associate with Paul was to associate with a criminal. There can be no doubt that while Tychicus ministered to Paul, his mere identity with Paul put him in a dangerous predicament. What great courage, what great faith!

Even to the beloved Timothy (Paul's spiritual son), Paul was forced to write, "Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, or of me his prisoner; but join with me in suffering for the gospel according to the power of God" (2 Tim. 1:8). In his final letter during his second imprisonment, he also said, "At my first defense no one supported me, but all deserted me" (2 Tim. 4:16). When the goings got tough…many got going.

But unlike these folks in 2 Timothy was Onesiphorus. "The Lord grant mercy to the house of Onesiphorus for he often refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chains" (2 Tim. 1:16). He, like Tychicus, must have been a great encouragement to Paul. They were men who were willing to stick by him through thick and thin even if it meant jeopardizing their own lives.

Why? Because they thought Paul was a great guy? No, they had a greater pursuit, the pursuit of God. To them, the pursuit of God in serving others was worth risking their lives. Even today you better know what you're doing if you stand behind the cause for which one is imprisoned! How much more in hostile and barbaric Rome where they flogged and crucified prisoners! These men believed what they were working for. They knew Paul was imprisoned for the gospel. They knew their greatest service to God would be to stand by Paul's side and minister to his needs, and they were steadfast in their commitment. Serving Paul was serving God (they knew it and Paul knew it), so much to the point that Paul's prayer for his defectors was, "May it not be counted against them" (2 Tim. 4:16). Deserting Paul was potentially deserting God.

But Tychicus stayed; he served as a messenger, bandaged wounds, encouraged through words and prayed with Paul during those lonely years in confinement. You can see how Paul, in verse 7, would refer to Tychicus as a "beloved brother ." They were united by Christ's blood into the family of God, sticking close during adversity, and serving together for the sake of the Name. Though Paul was a great Apostle, he was nevertheless a human being. As a human being he needed people to love him and humbly serve alongside him in the furtherance of his ministry. Tychicus was the beloved brother who did just that.

According to verse 7, Tychicus was also a servant. As we already noticed, Tychicus served God by serving Paul. In calling Tychicus a "faithful servant ," Paul bestowed upon him the greatest compliment he could receive. Though the world thinks it laughable, God is most greatly honored by faithful service of His children. For even Jesus Himself "did not come to be served, but to serve" (Mk. 19:45). Repeatedly we are told that the greatest in the kingdom will be the servant of all. While disciples argued about who would be the greatest, Jesus washed their feet. The first will be last and the last will be first in His kingdom. This upside-down principle, this descending to greatness, is the epitome of the Christian life. It's been said that the greatest ability is availability and dependability. Once an individual makes himself available to God and serves faithful in the small things…look out! God will use that person to turn the world upside-down!

Tychicus was such a person. Apart from his name being mentioned a few times, the world would never have known he even existed. Everybody wants to be an Apostle Paul, but who wants to be a Tychicus? But apart from people like Tychicus, we wouldn't have an apostle Paul. For every person in the limelight, dozens of unnamed and often unappreciated folks are serving in a support capacity. I think of the many in our church committed to behind-the-scenes service: downstairs teaching the children, preparing the elements for communion, video and audio taping of the service, working the sound board upstairs, maintaining the cleanliness and upkeep of the church, paying the utility bills, assisting with baptisms, helping to lead worship, devotion to prayer, etc. Can you even identify these people? (Probably not…that's my point!) We don't know Charles Lindberg's mechanics, or Walter Payton's lead blockers, or even Abraham Lincoln's cabinet. But I tell you, pull out a few of these foundational cards, and watch the whole house collapse. "For the loss of a nail, lose the horseshoe; for the loss of a horseshoe, lose the horse; for the loss of a horse, lose a soldier; for the loss of a soldier lose a battle; for the loss of a battle, lose a kingdom."

Tychicus was a faithful servant. He knew his gifts, he knew his role, and despite the lack of attention, he was willing to serve His Lord through humble, faithful, behind-the-scenes service. I have so much respect for these individuals. It's easy to serve in the ministries where everybody pats you on the back, but the real test of a servant comes in a ministry when nobody notices you but the Lord. It's easy to begin a ministry with great zeal but difficult to finish with great zeal. Oh how the Lord appreciates His beloved servants who labor with hard work, faithfully persevering to the end, only caring to be noticed by their God.

Leonard Bernstein, the late conductor of the New York Philharmonic orchestra, was once asked to name the most difficult instrument to play. Without hesitation, he replied, "The second fiddle. I can get plenty of first violinists, but to find someone who can play the second fiddle with enthusiasm-that's a problem. And if we have no second fiddle, we have no harmony."

Commitment, humility and service, they are lost words in our American vocabulary. But if you trace them through the Scriptures, these are the qualities most admired by Paul in his co-workers. They are even more precious in the sight of God. Where is the one who will quit talking about what he needs to do and do it? Where is the one who will persevere over time in ministry through thick and thin? Where is the one who serves to completion, conscientious of integrity and excellence through hard work? Where is the one who will see serving Jesus Christ through others to be the greatest reward? Where is the one who can serve the Lord looking only to receive His attention? These will mark the individual pursuing Jesus Christ as his greatest joy!

But how far have we fallen from being like Tychicus when Christians are leaving ministries for the sake of convenience and churches for the color of the wallpaper!

Do you remember Mark, the disciple of Paul, the cousin of Barnabas and the son of a godly mother? He had a great resume, but when it came time to choose a partner for the second missionary journey, Paul adamantly refused to take Mark. Paul remembered his desertion on the first journey. The man didn't fulfill the ministry, and Paul deemed him unfaithful.

But when there was needed a replacement for Timothy in Ephesus, we read that Paul sent Tychicus (2 Ti. 4:12). And when there was needed a replacement for Titus in Crete, we read that Paul was about to send Tychicus (Tit. 3:12). And when Paul needed someone to carry his priceless letters of Ephesians, Philemon and Colossians (a trip that entailed crossing seas, journeying over 100 miles on foot, and facing repeated bandits along the way…possessing inspired Scripture), guess whom he called upon? Tychicus! What a faithful servant! What a man devoted to the sake of the Name!

Tychicus was a beloved brother , faithful servant and lastly in verse 7, Tychicus is referred to as a "fellow bond-servant in the Lord." Before I unpack the term "bond-servant," let's look at the two bookends of this clause. First of all, he is a fellow bond-servant. In the eyes of God (and Paul) he is on the same level. In 1:7 Epaphras is also described as a fellow bond-servant of Christ. All these men like you and I have different gifts, different talents, and different calls, but are nevertheless fellow bond-servants. Nobody is better or more important than the other. Second , Tychicus was a fellow bond-servant in the Lord . He was not one of the estimated 60 million bond-servants/slaves in the Roman Empire. He was not a servant to man, rather he was a bond-servant to the Lord and in the Lord . The Lord (as the Name implies) was his Master.

The term "bond-servant " is rich in meaning and rightly includes all who claim to be Christians (Paul, Tychicus, you and I). To understand it's meaning we need to have a better feel for the historic context. As we mentioned two weeks ago, the institution of slavery dominated the Roman Empire. Calling oneself a slave or bond-servant of the Lord would have brought specific, rich connotations to the first century mind. In the oppressive institution of slavery, where slaves owed their masters complete obedience, the biblical writers saw the imagery of a bond-servant expressing our relationship to Christ. Paul, James, Jude, Peter and John all identify themselves as a bond-servant to Christ in the biblical letters they wrote. Even Christ Himself when He became man was said to have taken the form of a bond-servant in Philippians 2.

So the term is not one of degradation, but rather one of humility expressing a steadfast devotion and loyalty to a Master. From a biblical perspective, our earthly status is meaningless (our job, what we wear, where we live or what kind of car we drive). The world finds identity and allegiance in these things, but what really matters is our identity and allegiance with a spiritual Master in the heavenly places. Every human being is serving a master, either God or Satan, the only question is, "Who is yours?" Those who think they're free, independent, moral creatures devoted to their own agenda have been deceived by the father of lies. They are unknowingly subjected to his bondage, fulfilling his will, and awaiting his fate.

But those who submit to God as their Master and identify themselves as a bond-servant of Christ are in a paradoxical way truly free or as Jesus said, "free indeed" (Jn. 8:36). Free from sin and guilt and death and free to serve God from the heart. Romans 6 says it well, "Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness? But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness" (Rom. 6:16-18).

Tychicus was a bond-servant of the Lord. He took his marching orders from his Master. He was a Master unlike the tyrannical leaders of the Roman world. He was and is One who is gracious, whose commandments are not burdensome, whose yoke is light and easy to bear, who is not partial with men, who is faithful to reward after a hard day's labor, and who identifies us as His children.

Tychicus was a bond-servant of the Lord. I ask you, what's the greatest mark of the Lord's bond-servant? Love! "For you (the bond-servant) were called to freedom (there's that paradox), brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another" (Gal. 5:13). Not too many people would have stuck it out with Paul, as a matter of fact, many didn't! But Tychicus did! The Lord's bond-servant considers others more important than himself. It's almost as if the slave to God has the freedom to make himself a slave to others. That's beautiful. That's true humanity! That was Paul's heart! Consider Paul, "For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, that I might win the more . And to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the Law, as under the Law, though not being myself under the Law, that I might win those who are under the Law; to those who are without law, as without law, though not being without the law of God but under the law of Christ, that I might win those who are without law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, that I may by all means save some . And I do all things for the sake of the gospel , that I may become a fellow partaker of it" (1 Cor. 9:19-23). If the mark of a bond-servant is love for others (and think about it) is there any greater expression of that love than evangelism? This theology is so rich, I wish I had another 3 hours to unpack it!

Tychicus had no problem being identified as a bond-servant…do you? Tychicus fulfilled the role of a bond-servant, do you? Do you identify with the words of Paul in Galatians 1:10? "For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ ." Do you identify with the words of Christ in Luke 17:10? "So you too, when you do all the things which are commanded you, say, 'We are unworthy slaves ; we have done only that which we ought to have done.'"

I love Tychicus! He wasn't in it for himself; he was in it for his Lord in faithful service to others. Paul, 3 times in these 3 verses in Colossians 4, expresses how Tychicus will bring the church not only the letter but also personal information about himself. He could be trusted. He was reliable. He was faithful with the little and was enabled to be trusted with much. Though he never wrote a canonical book and we have no record of any feats or sermons in Acts, he will always be remembered for his greatness by his humble service for Christ. He was the beloved brother, the faithful servant and the fellow bond-servant in the Lord.


If Tychicus was the freeman who became a slave for Christ , Onesimus is the slave who became a freedman in Christ . Verse 9 says, "and with him Onesimus, our faithful and beloved brother, who is one of your number. They will inform you about the whole situation here" (Col. 4:9).

Paul is preparing the Colossian church for the arrival of Tychicus and the Colossian letter; but almost as an afterthought he mentions that along with Tychicus will be the return of Onesimus (a native of Colossae).

The reason I say return is because according to the letter to Philemon, Onesimus was Philemon's slave that pilfered from his master and ran away to Rome. Onesimus thought he could hide amongst the anonymous population in metropolitan Rome; but instead of losing himself, he found Christ. You know the story… he met Paul during his imprisonment and was converted . Both he and Onesimus knew that the rightful thing to do was return to Philemon and make restitution . His return was "no longer as a slave, but more than a slave, a beloved brother" in the Lord (Phm. 1:16).

I love the story of Onesimus. Some of us may appear a little cleaner on the outside but when we come to Christ we are all like Onesimus on the inside…dirty rebels living for ourselves in search of meaning and purpose. But despite who we are and what we've done in the past, God's power is able to transform us into a new creation. In the twinkle of an eye we can be forgiven of every sin, or as it says in this letter, "canceling out the certificate of debt, He nailed it to the cross." And then we can like Onesimus, be incorporated into the church of the living God on equal status with every believer. If God can forgive a no-good, low-life, run-away slave like Onesimus, why can't He forgive you?

In searching for his freedom , Onesimus found his freedom … not freedom from slavery , but freedom in slavery , slavery to His new Master, the Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Samuel 2:12 says, "Now the sons of Eli were worthless men; they did not know the Lord." But in Philemon 1:11 Paul says of Onesimus, he "formerly was useless to you, but now is useful both to you and to me." And might I add, to the Lord of Glory. Tychicus and Onesimus are two trophies of God's grace, two men that will forever be remembered as useful men, faithful to their Master, devoted to the Greatest Cause.

I was at a funeral some time ago and listened to the pastor speak wonderful accolades of the deceased man in relation to his faith in Christ, but then it came time for those who knew him the best to share on his behalf. I listened to his best friends , his employer , his family and even his wife . Though I heard many funny heart-warming stories, not one person mentioned a word regarding his faith. How tragic! What should have been his first-love and the greatest legacy he has left behind was completely non-existent.

And I thought for a moment and said: What will they be saying of me during an occasion when the people who knew me the best are forced to say something good… my wife, my kids, my friends. Will I be remembered, disguised by their kind stories, as a useless man who lived solely for himself or will they remember me as a bond-servant of Jesus Christ, devoted to Him as my greatest joy , greatest cause and greatest reward .

other sermons in this series

Mar 24


For The Sake of The Name - Part Three

Preacher: Randy Smith Scripture: Colossians 4:15–18 Series: Colossians

Mar 17


For The Sake of The Name - Part Two

Preacher: Randy Smith Scripture: Colossians 4:10–14 Series: Colossians

Mar 3


Communication With A Heart Toward Evangelism

Preacher: Randy Smith Scripture: Colossians 4:2–6 Series: Colossians